New South Wales, News

Cost blow out alleged for light rail clean up

The bill to clean up for land that NSW Ministry for Transport and Roads bought from a property developer at Camellia for the Parramatta Light Rail project has more than doubled.

The figure is in contracts published by Transport For New South Wales two weeks ago. They show the final cost of removing asbestos, arsenic and chromium from the six hectares of contaminated land at 4-6 Grand Avenue Camellia has risen to $115 million

Transport previously said the clean-up would cost $48 million.

The latest revelations follow reports that the Minister’s, Andsrew Contances. Department paid property developer Billbergia $53.5 million to buy the site, despite the developer having bought the land for $38.5 million seven months earlier.

Shadow Minister for Finance and Small Business Daniel Mookhey said the Camellia land deal was shocking.

“This is by far the worst property deal by any Australian Government this century,“ Mookhey said.  “Heads must roll. Taxpayers are stuck with an $115 million clean up bill, while a property developer walks away with millions in mega-profit.”

Internal Transport For New South Wales documents obtained by NSW Labor show approval for the acquisition was originally conditional on the developer agreeing to clean up the land. Transport dropped the condition for reasons that remain unknown, alleges Mookhey.

Mookhey said: “NSW taxpayers might have to pay millions more if our new neighbours force the NSW Government to clean up their land too. Minister Constance has achieved a trifecta of incompetence. He paid way above market value to buy toxic land for a project he’s set to abandon”

Inside Waste contacted Minister Constance’s office and at the time of publication, had yet to hear back.

UPDATED

“As part of the Parramatta Light Rail program, the site for the future light rail stabling and maintenance facility is being remediated to address chemical contamination resulting from the land’s historical industrial use,” said a spokesperson for Transport for NSW. “Physical construction works at 6 Grand Avenue are targeted for completion in the second quarter of 2021, subject to weather conditions. Additional ground improvement works are being undertaken in order to accommodate the design of the Stabling and Maintenance facility.

“Transport for NSW acquired land at 4-6 Grand Avenue, Camellia, for a stabling and maintenance facility for the Parramatta Light Rail project in June 2016 following an extensive search of potential locations which identified it as the most suitable. Transport for NSW’s acquisition of this land has been referred by the Minister for Transport and Roads to the Auditor-General and the Independent Commission Against Corruption, so it would not be appropriate to comment further.”